President Donald Trump signed an executive order pushing for price transparency in healthcare.
The order, which was issued on June 24, is intended to lower healthcare costs, help patients make informed decisions about their care and expand the benefits of tax-preferred health plans such as health savings accounts, according to CNBC.
The executive order directs HHS to draft rules requiring hospitals and insurance companies to disclose negotiated rates for healthcare services and inform patients of their financial responsibility prior to their procedures.
HHS will also be responsible for determining the additional regulatory steps needed to prevent surprise billing. Several states have already passed legislation designed to end surprise out-of-network bills.
The order follows the federal government's previously announced plans to require pharmaceutical companies to disclose drug prices in TV ads. That requirement will go into effect in July.
In conjunction with the recent executive order, the Trump administration pledged to provide researchers and providers with data that will foster the development of price-transparency tools. The administration also stated its committent to improving and publicizing quality measurements.
Proponents of the policy, including HHS Secretary Alex Azar, believe price transparency empowers patients to choose low-cost healthcare services.
Gordon Soderland, executive vice president of strategic relationships for Flagship Healthcare Properties — which has acquired multiple ASC properties in recent months — indicated as much in a Q&A with Becker's ASC Review. As "pricing becomes more transparent," he said, "patients will shift their buying decisions to lower-cost, higher-quality providers delivering a better experience."
However, critics — including many representing insurers' interests — say providers may raise prices if they get ahold of their competitors' prices.
"Publicly disclosing competitively negotiated, proprietary rates will reduce competition and push prices higher — not lower — for consumers, patients and taxpayers," Matt Eyles, CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, said in a statement to NPR.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma issued the following statement on the recent executive order: "Since day one, this administration has made great strides in increasing transparency to foster competition in our healthcare system to keep care affordable, and empowering patients to make informed healthcare decisions. I am excited to implement these bold reforms to transform our healthcare system into one that delivers affordable and accessible healthcare, and puts American patients first."
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